The Rwanda genocide.

The Rwanda genocide of 1994 occured while the world watched from the sidelines and did nothing to stop it. Aside from the killers themselves who is to blame? Is it france who supported president President Habyarimana for so long even as he persecuted the hutus?Belgium for fostering the initial division between the rwandese? Or much later, was it the USA for blocking any peacekeeping forces while the killings were raging? How could such a horrific tragedy occur without the world doing anything about it?

And remember Madeline Albright lobbied for all the troops to be pulled out even as the scale of the massacres became evident.

Why blame France, Belgium or America for what Rwandans did? No offense, buddy, but it wasn’t Belgians who went on machete-sprees…

Well, the original post does say “Aside from the killers themselves…” There are such things as accomplices, aiding and abetting, and sins of omission. The OP also mentions some things which would go well beyond failure to act; if the Belgians did foster the ethnic divisions of Rwanda during the colonial period in the first place, or the French supported genocidal leaders during the post-colonial period, that would be a reason to blame them, in addition to the actual machete-wielders.

While the Hutus were killing Tutsis by the thousands, the Sg of the Un talked of “Hutus killing Tutsis and Tutsis killing Hutus” which was a shocking distortion of the truth.

And when the killers were fleeing, France launched a 'rescue operation’which enabled the killers to flee into Zaire. The safe zone they created enabled the leaders to escape. This is a fact.

And im sure u have heard of the famous Romeo Dallaire memo to the UN telling them of plans being laid for mass killing.Those guys refused to work on it and instead told him to share the info with the government…The very same government which was preparing the killings.
The world said never again after the holocaust…That promise rings hollow now.

Philip Gourevitch wrote an excellent book on it titled ‘We wish to inform u that tomorrow we will be killed together with our families’. Makes for grim reading. And To give credit to Clinton, he did come to Rwanda twice and apologised for his inaction both times.

I know that the United states could of done something about the genocide, just like my government could do something about Mugabe, why are our governments such pussies when it comes to the Africa issue?

I cannot blame the outside world for it’s lack of intervention. Anyone fancy sending a peacekeeping force into the middle of a conflict that killed a million people in three months and trying to keep order and impartiality? How large would such a force have to be? How long would it have to stay? How many casualties would it take? How would it defend itself, let alone restore order, without using great amounts of violence itself?

It’s the classic Catch-22 for the Western powers. Stand aloof and you’re labelled cold and uncaring; intervene and people starts saying “what are we doing getting involved in THIS?”

It’s hardly impossible that Rwanda may repeat its genocide yet again at some point in the future… hands up who’ll be demanding their government to send ten thousand or so of its troops to sort everything out.

Stop after the word “occur” and I could find that a fair question.

How about if the OP first outlines what he or she thinks specifically should have been done by other countries at the time of the massacres, so that we can better determine who should be blamed (other than, of course, those who actually did the killing)?

How about a discussion as to whether the self-division of Africans along tribal lines helps or hurts development and respect for human rights on that continent?

I think I Know Lots has it pegged.

Africans kill each other, and then look around for someone to blame. "How come you didn’t stop us?’

Or “You colonialist bastards, invading a sovereign country, as if you were any better! Give us some money!”

Or “It was those darn Belgians, getting us all excited and then leaving! No wonder we killed each other - give us some money!”

Or some combination of all of the above.

Welcome to the SDMB, minega. What do you think the rest of the world should have done?


As far as the world community stopping the genocide, I put the blame fairly squarely on the Clinton administration. And so does Clinton. I’ve heard him say that the Rwanda situation was the biggest mistake of his presidency.

Canada was pushing hard for a peacekeeping force to go to Rwanda to maintain order. We even offered to lead the force and supply a big chunk of the troops required. But Canada required U.S. logistical support, and the Clinton Administration waffled, then opposed it. We were screaming loudly that there would be genocide if the U.S. didn’t assist us in stopping it, but they turned a blind eye to the issue.

Please remember–neither country has a seacoast.

The size of the transport airfleet to airlift a large enough force into the area is staggering.

Afghanastan has a much smaller population than Rwanda. Smaller forces had to be transported. And we had local help. Makes a damn big difference.

A military campaign in Africa also means tropical disease. Who wants to see a lot of American Ebola cases? Show of hands?

And don’t forget–where soldiers go, hookers soon follow. The problems Africa has with HIV would soon be of far greater intrest, too.

BTW–just how were we supposed to resolve this? :confused:

Well, the Canadian plan was well worked out, and involved 10,000-15,000 troops in a multinational effort, and to stay for four to six months.

That is not a huge effort. The U.S. alone could do that with its Rapid Deployment Force. Canada was willing to contribute at least 4,000 soldiers to that effort.

Would it be possible for an informed Doper to provide a short compendium on HOW the Rwanda Genocide came to pass?

OK, Boo, let me think back to the first year of university for this… let’s see… alcoholism, failing to pull women, stupid purple shirt… ah yes:

If I remember correctly, Hutus (majority) and Tutsis (minority) had been rivals back into the midsts of time. The Europeans show up in the nineteenth century and use the Tutsis as a convenient force for dominating the Hutus. The colonial power was first the Germans, and then after WWI, the Belgians. Can’t remember when exactly the Belgisn left, sometime in the 1960s. Anyway, Rwanda had all the problems of your average post-colonial African state. After the collaboration of the Tutsis with the colonialists, the Hutus were itching for revenge, leading to a genocide in, I think, 1972. The 1994 genocide was sparked when the Hutu president died when his plane was shot down (who exactly is responsible for this is unclear). Hutu extremists, including the Rwandan army, took this opportunity to attack moderate Hutus as well as, of course, the Tutsis. Early in the 1994 disturbances, 12 Belgian paratroopers were captured by Hutus and tortured to death as a clear message to outside powers to KEEP YOU NOSE OUT. This worked. The genocide was actually the most rapid and intense genocide in history, 10,000 people a day totalling one million, faster than Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot ever managed. Unlike these past genocides, however, in Rwanda the killing was done by the mass of ordinary people with guns, machetes and bare hands, not by some specialized state organization like the SS or NKVD. Many Hutus were forced to take part in the genocide or die themselves. (A friend of mine was in the British army in Rwanda at some point in late 1994, and told me all kinds of horrible stories I won’t repeat here). Meanwhile, Tutsis rebels known as the Rwandan Patriotic Front had been camped out in exile in Uganda, biding their time. They decided the time had come to act, and managed to march into the country and install a new government that still exists today. A lot of the Hutu forces responsible for the killing retreated into the Congo. I’m not sure how stable things are today, but as I suggested above, it is possible things may kick off again in the future.

Hopefully someone can provide a more comphrehensive account, but that’s the basics of the whole thing.

There are few or no Americans there.

There is little or no American business interest there.

Their country isn’t one we ever owned, abused or colonized.

They aren’t white.

They don’t speak English.

Add that to the legitimate reasons, like “American troops might get killed there, thus generating a political drag for the administraiton in power”, and one begins to understand why we’ve let Haiti be so screwed up for so long, as well as why Africans slaughter each other with wild abandon, while we just sit and wring our hands and moan about the humanity…

And this shifts a micro-fraction of the blame away from the Hutu murderers… how?

I Know Lots has a lot of the facts down, but it’s worth mentioning the Clinton Administration’s “Mogadishu Line”, to which Carol Off (in The Lion, The Fox and the Eagle) attributes a good deal of (at least) America’s unwillingness to do a helluva lot.

Overall, I’m only two weeks into my Peacebuilding course, but one of the things it’s taught me is that techniques of multilateral intervention are not very well-refined even to this day. Some people seem to think that you can go into a country half-heartedly. That’s just a complete disaster. You gotta commit fully, for the long haul, or not at all. This was a case of half-heartedness.

Second, to Ryan_Liam: What do you mean, the “Africa Issue”? Not only is Africa an enormous and incredibly complex place, with quite different dynamics country-to-country, but there are a wide array of (admittedly intersecting) issues.


so, is Rwanda a former part of the Belgian Congo? The one that was run so disastrously by King Leopold? Where rubber extraction was the big deal, and they somehow wound up with some kind of deal where the natives were forced to pay off in either baskets of raw rubber or baskets full of human hands and other such disgusting barbarism?

That Belgian Congo?

Not exactly, no. It was originally incorporated into German East Africa. After WW I it became a League of Nations mandate under Belgian control ( i.e. separate from the Congo administration and with some very minimal outside oversight ). After WW II that status was changhed to that of a U.N. trust territory, but still under Belgian auspices.

Just as an aside and to add to I Know Lots account - the Hutu were agriculturalists that entered the region somewhere between the 5th and 11th century C.E., whereas the Tutsi were pastoralists that arrived after the 14th century ( largely peacefully, apparently, and over time ). Gradually the Tutsi became politically dominant. However it is worth noting that by modern times, what had originally been an ethnic/cultural division had become essentially a class structure based on occupation ( agricultural vs. cattle-owning landlords ) and economic status. i.e. Tutsi and Hutu today are much more a intermingled people ( though it is often claimed that Tutsi are tall and thin and Hutu shorter and squatter, in fact for many you apparently can’t tell the difference ). Indeed it was once possible for “Hutus” to become “Tutsis” simply by moving up the economic chain - There was some ( however limited ) fluidity to the social dynamics between the two groups. This ended in the 1930’s when the Belgians began enforcing ethnic identifiers.

  • Tamerlane